Donald and McIlroy prove to be Dubai's dynamic duo

Thu Nov 22, 2012 9:25am EST
 
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By Tony Jimenez

DUBAI (Reuters) - World number two Luke Donald made a flying start in his bid to record back-to-back victories by snatching the first-round lead at the DP World Tour Championship on Thursday.

Donald fired a seven-under 65 to move one stroke ahead of top-ranked Rory McIlroy, Briton Marc Warren and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain at the European Tour's season-ending tournament.

Briton Donald, who won the Dunlop Phoenix title in Japan last week, was not at his best in the early stages and had to sink a putt of eight feet at the first and 15 feet at the fourth to avoid dropping two strokes.

He then reeled off seven birdies in a scintillating 10-hole sweep from the fifth to overpower his rivals at a Greg Norman-designed Earth course softened by a monsoon-like downpour at the start of the day.

"It was nice to pick up from where I left off in Japan and I felt very comfortable out there," Donald told reporters after a round that began in overcast conditions and ended in scorching heat. "You always feel different the week after winning.

"You just feel like you have that little extra pep in your step and there's a bit more confidence flowing through for sure. Winning by five shots last week gave me a huge boost."

Donald came to this event last year with the pressure heaped on his shoulders during an eventually successful bid to become the first player to clinch the money-list crowns on both sides of the Atlantic.

"The feeling was definitely different today," said the 34-year-old. "There was a lot more at stake for me a year ago.   Continued...

 
Luke Donald of England hits a shot onto the 17th green during the first round of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, November 22, 2012. REUTERS/Nikhil Monteiro